Former top PLDT executive joins Dennis Uy’s DITO CME Holdings, Inc.

PLDT’s former top 2 executive Ernesto “Eric” Alberto, who previously served the firm as its Chief Revenue Officer, joined Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy’s DITO CME Holdings, Inc.

With nearly 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry after his resignation from PLDT last year, Alberto now serves as the independent director of DITO CME. Alberto earlier said that Uy, whom he considers as a personal friend, had approached him about the position, according to a report by Inquirer.

DITO CME is linked to DITO Telecommunity, the country’s third major telco player partly owned by China. DITO has been experiencing delays which resulted in missing its technical audit last July 8. The company said that the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has given them a six-month extension for the audit until January 2021.

Medical frontliners in PH grapple with demoralization as COVID-19 cases continue to surge

Filipino medical frontliners battle not only COVID-19 but also demoralization as the Philippines struggles to contain the viral disease. As of July 26, the country has recorded 35 deaths among health workers due to coronavirus.

While the Duterte administration has allotted P1 million for health workers who died because of COVID-19, Dr. Monica Pia Reyes Montecillo, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist, said that no life is worth the said amount. Meanwhile, Dr. John Jefferson Besa, a senior resident of Internal Medicine-PGH, asked the Department of Health (DOH) to establish a clear referral system between hospitals to accept and manage non-COVID patients.

Montecillo and Besa were among the participants in the virtual forum hosted by the Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine Pediatric Society, and the Philippine General Hospital Physicians Association. The health groups asked the government to include expanded quarantine facilities for asymptomatic and mild cases; intensified contact tracing; increased PPEs, hospital supplies, drugs, and manpower; proper compensation; and better healthcare worker–patient ratio.

Locsin raises Sabah issue after Duterte wimped out over West Philippine Sea

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. raised the issue of Sabah in a tweet, saying “Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines.” The tweet came a few days after President Rodrigo Duterte declared his defeatist position over the issue of the West Philippine Sea in his fifth SONA.

In response, Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein announced that his office will summon Locsin over his tweet. “This is an irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties. [The Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs] will summon the Philippines Ambassador on Monday to explain. Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia,” Hussein tweeted.

In a pre-SONA forum, Malaysia and the Philippines, along with Indonesia, entered into an agreement to safeguard their territorial rights in the West Philippine Sea. Malaysia, like the Philippines, is one of the countries that assert claims over the disputed waters. Locsin’s statement might affect the partnership between the two countries.

NCMH chief and his driver shot dead by riding-in-tandem in QC

On Monday, a tricycle driver has witnessed two motorcycle riders fire shots on the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) chief Dr. Roland Cortez, 61, and his driver, Ernesto Dela Cruz, 46, which ended their lives after sustaining a number of gunshots.

The Department of Health (DOH) said in a statement that it “is shocked and alarmed at the news of the ambush” of Cortez. The government agency regarded him as “a respected leader who sought to treat clients with utmost dignity.”

“The DOH family extends its deepest condolences to the families of Dr. Roland and Mr. Ernesto and vows to pursue justice for their untimely demise,” the DOH added.

The DOH is now working with the investigation unit of QCPD to assure that the assailants are properly sanctioned to the fullest extent of the law.

It has been found out that in 2019, Cortez has filed a complaint at the Office of the Ombudsman vs. another NCMH ranking official and 13 others over alleged graft and malversation.

The police are now looking at the motive behind the killing.

Where there are Chinese vessels, there is destruction in marine life and the environment

The presence of Chinese vessels is affecting not only the Philippines but also other countries and regions. Chinese fishing vessels are blamed for overfishing in the Galapagos archipelago and the West Philippine Sea, both of which are located in the vast Pacific Ocean. Chinese vessels are also used to quarry limestone in Bohol.

In September last year, Chinese nationals were arrested for illegal dredging operations without visas and work permits in Masinloc, Zambales. The foreign vessel involved left but did not alleviate its negative impact on marine life and livelihood of the fishing communities in the area. In April this year, Chinese vessels attempted to quarry on Semirara Island amid quarantine restrictions.

Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and activist groups have been expressing their concerns over the presence of Chinese vessels in the Philippines. But they will keep on coming back as long as President Rodrigo Duterte plays friendship card with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

ABS-CBN among Duterte’s first agenda during fifth SONA

Despite claims from the Palace about President Rodrigo Duterte’s neutral stance over the franchise issue of ABS-CBN, he wasted no time in lambasting the TV network within the first five minutes of his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

According to Duterte, he is a “casualty” of the Lopezes, the family who owns and runs ABS-CBN which the Congress denied of a new 25-year franchise.

The president accused the Lopezes as “oligarchs” who utilize a “powerful tool” like the media in their “battle against political figures.”

Duterte has been repeatedly quoted with his statements against the network even before its franchise hearing in Congress, including his suggestion for the media giant to just sell the network and that he will see to it that ABS-CBN will be shut down.

Duterte admits he’s ‘inutile’ to pursue war vs China over West Philippine Sea

Claiming that he is not mad at the United States (US) nor with China, the dispute on the West Philippine Sea is everybody’s matter, President Rodrigo Duterte said.

Surrendering the battle for the country’s territorial claim in the West Philippine Sea was one of the issues Duterte talked about in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

The country should “just cool off” and pursue “diplomatic endeavors” to counter China’s sweeping claims in the area “unless we are prepared to go to war,” Duterte declared.

“China is claiming it, we are claiming it. China has the arms. We do not have it so it’s simple as that. They are in possession of the property… So what can we do? We have to go to war, and I cannot afford it. Maybe some other President can, but I cannot. Inutil ako diyan, sabihin ko sa inyo. And I’m willing to admit it. Talagang inutil ako diyan, wala kong magawa,” the president admitted.

Duterte pushes for death penalty at SONA

President Rodrigo Duterte pushed for the revival of the death penalty through lethal injection in his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).

“I reiterate the swift passage of the law reviving the death penalty by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002,” said Duterte.

The president has been loud in his call to resume the discussion on the death penalty a couple of times; focusing on drug trafficking and other heinous crimes as main cases for the grave sanction.

Likewise, Duterte put the reimposition of the death penalty in Congress’ list of priorities last year in his fourth SONA, noting that it was repealed due to the judicial process of the Philippines is either manipulated or bought for people’s convenience; it only favors the privileged.

The death penalty via lethal injection will be further deliberated.

DILG’s barrier requirement for motorcycle backriding results in accidents

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently allowed riding pillion after almost four months, but the new backriding requirements have resulted in accidents.

As the Philippine government gradually eases lockdown restrictions, the DILG mandated regular motorcycle riders and their pillion who live in the same household to put barriers as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 transmission.

The Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO) has received photos of six motorcycle-related accidents forwarded to them linked to DILG’s directive.

A rider by the name of Dla Cruz narrated on social media their accident in Cubao, Quezon City, pointing out that it was a costly expense that has been wasted as the barriers are dangerous and unusable. “Yung barrier na basagbasag hindi po sya safe. Please lang wag na po sana mag barrier,” he said.

“Again, bumili ako dahil sumusunod kami sa gusto nyo pero sana makarating ito sa inyo hindi po kami mamamatay sa semplang pero yung mga basag na piraso na muntik ng sumaksak samin pareho ang ikakamatay namin kung sakali,” the rider added.

Another incident involved a couple riding along the Shaw Boulevard flyover. According to eyewitness accounts, a sudden gust of wind blew. The shield acted like a sail, caught the wind, and threw the riders off their balance. The rider lost control of the motorcycle as a result.

MRO urged the government to hear the opinion of experts and professionals in the motorcycle industry before enacting protocols that would affect the lives of motorcycle riders. Experts in the field of motorcycle safety have already pointed out that the shield is both unsafe and an unnecessary expense.

Moreover, fabricators who are familiar with the material also pointed out acrylic glass’ brittle nature, as it may shatter and impale the rider and his pillion in the event of a crash.

Duterte orders DSWD, DILG to assist public transport drivers who did not receive cash aid

President Rodrigo Duterte has directed government agencies to address the concerns of public transport drivers who did not receive financial support amid the COVID-19 crisis.

In line with this, Duterte announced in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) the Pantawid Pasada Program which will provide financial assistance to public utility vehicle drivers.

“There are complaints that some drivers did not receive any assistance at all. I have directed the DSWD and the DILG to look into this,” the president said.

During the lockdown period from March to June, the operations of jeepneys and buses were halted to prevent the further spreading of COVID-19. Some of the drivers were forced to beg for money on the streets to provide for their families due to their lack of source of income.

The jeepney operations resumed earlier in the month of July.